Much like a gardener hopes that the seeds they plant will eventually bloom into a lush garden, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant awards Discovery Grants, or “seed” grants, to a number of projects in the hopes that the initiatives will grow into something larger. In recent years, IISG has funded 35 projects focused on key concerns the program is committed to address; here are six new projects for 2012:

– Charles Werth, a civil engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will study the potential benefits and cost-effectiveness of installing green roofs in urban areas, considering effects on runoff, water quality, and other factors.
– Nandakishore Rajagopalan of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center will explore the feasibility of establishing saline aquaculture in Illinois – in other words, a saltwater fish farm. This initial study will focus on the economics of establishing such an industry and explore the possibilities for a few key species.
– Daniel Larkin, a conservation scientist at the Chicago Botanic Garden, will establish a network of researchers and professionals who manage phragmites, an invasive reed grass, to discuss recent advances in control and collaboratively develop management plans to reflect the newest science and best techniques available.
– Maria Sepulveda, an ecotoxicologist at Purdue University, will build on previous IISG studies that looked at the distribution of pharmaceuticals or personal care products in Lake Michigan by examining the effects that these chemicals have on species throughout the food chain, both individually and in potentially toxic combinations.
– Marcelo Garcia of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will use results from an Asian Carp egg survival model to develop a tool that identifies where and how to implement targeted control methods. The tool would help decision makers prevent the spread of the invasive species.
– Brian Murphy of the University of Illinois Chicago will examine Lake Michigan as a potential source of bacteria that might be used in new medicines.
These Discovery Grants provide funding for initial research that has the potential to grow into larger future projects, or for projects that bring research results to a broader audience and could be expanded on by fellow researchers and agencies.
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